How to Clean a Bite Puncture Wound on a Dog

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Medium
5 - 10 Minutes
2 Day

Introduction

Poor Lola, the normally tenacious terrier got the worse end of an altercation at the dog park with another dog and ended up with a bite puncture wound. Her owner rushed her to the vet where she was given antibiotics in case of infection and some analgesics for her painful wound. The puncture was left open to allow any discharge to drain, as it was a deep wound and bacteria introduced into the wound was likely to cause an infection if the puncture was stitched and bacteria trapped inside.  

Lola’s owner will need to continue cleaning the wound and the surrounding area from the discharge and monitor the puncture for any signs of infection in the wound or surrounding tissues. What is the best way to clean a puncture wound in a dog? You should follow any instructions your veterinarian gives you regarding wound care and cleaning. Some bite wounds will be sutured, some left open, it will depend on a number of factors including the location and depth of the wound.  There are some basic methods for cleaning bite puncture wounds available, read on for more information.

Dog's Perspective

A dog that has just received a bite puncture wound has a couple of issues. Number one, it hurts! Any cleaning and dressing of the wound or interference with surrounding tissues will have to be conducted carefully so as not to cause your dog more discomfort. Secondly, your injured dog may be traumatized and agitated from the incident that caused the wound. A disturbed, upset dog, that has just been in an incident can be difficult to deal with. She may be afraid or even react aggressively, lashing out at anyone trying to help her after receiving a bite injury. You will need to monitor your dog for signs of distress and act firmly and gently to reassure, calm, and work with your dog to get the wound cleaned and treated and provide ongoing wound care.

The Before Veterinary Care Method

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Step
1
Stop bleeding and wipe area
If veterinary care is not available, or not available immediately, stop the bleeding from the wound with pressure and then wipe the area with a clean cloth and warm water or saline.
Step
2
Remove hair
Apply a water based lubricant such as KY jelly around the wound and use scissors or electric clippers to remove hair. The lubricant will capture loose hair so it does not go into the wound and cause contamination. Lubricant and hair can then be wiped away from the wound to remove it along with captured hair.
Step
3
Flush puncture
Flush out the wound with saline solution. This can be administered with a syringe and administered to the wound to flush out debris and bacteria inside the puncture wound.
Step
4
Clean area
Once the puncture itself has been flushed out, use a damp washcloth, gauze or cotton balls soaked with water, saline or a cleaning solution like a surgical scrub to clean the tissue around the wound. Avoid the use of hydrogen peroxide or rubbing alcohol, which can damage tissue.
Step
5
Dry and dress
Pat the area dry gently with clean, dry gauze or a clean towel. Cover the puncture wound with antibiotic ointment, available at a pharmacy, and apply a clean gauze dressing or allow to drain if wound can be kept clean and debris and contaminant-free. This process should be repeated 2-3 times per day. Seek veterinary attention if possible.
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The After Veterinary Care Method

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Step
1
Seek veterinary care
When your dog receives a bite puncture wound, stop bleeding and seek veterinary care, as antibiotics and other medication to prevent serious conditions may be required. Your veterinarian will provide initial cleaning, prescribe appropriate medications and may suture the puncture wound, leave it open, or suture a drain in place to allow for discharge to drain. Your veterinarian will instruct you on cleaning frequency, usually 2-3 times daily.
Step
2
Clean area around sutures
If sutured, clean the area around the wound with cotton balls soaked in an antiseptic solution recommended by your veterinarian, or with water and mild soap. Avoid interfering directly with the wound. Wipe away from the stitched wound.
Step
3
Clean drained discharge
If the wound has been left open to drain, or if a drain has been placed and sutured in place, you will need to clean away discharge that drains regularly. You can carefully wipe the area around the drain with a cotton ball or a piece of gauze soaked with saline solution, warm water, or antiseptic cleaner provided by the veterinarian.
Step
4
Carefully dry
Pat the wound and surrounding tissue dry with a sterile cloth or piece of gauze.
Step
5
Dress and monitor
Apply dressings if required. Monitor discharge from wound, the tissue surrounding the wound and the wound itself for signs of infection, including, redness, swelling, heat and pain. Seek veterinary attention if signs of infection occur.
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Caution & Considerations

  • Seek veterinary help for bite puncture wounds if possible. A veterinarian may prescribe antibiotics if an infection is likely. Bite wounds are extremely likely to become infected.  
  • Medications for other diseases possible with bite puncture wounds may be administered on the recommendation of a veterinarian.
  • Wash your hands before and after cleaning bite puncture wounds and use sterile materials like clean cloths, cotton balls or gauze to clean the wound.
  • Use mild antiseptic solutions recommended by your veterinarian or pharmacist or saline solution to clean the wound and area.
  • Your dog may need an Elizabethan collar to prevent him from licking, biting or interfering with the wound during healing and to prevent contamination.
  • Bite wounds are painful--analgesics may be required.
  • A dog that is in pain or agitated from an attack from a dog may require a muzzle during treatment to prevent him from lashing out in fear or pain. Monitor your dog to determine if cleaning and treatment can be provided safely.  Provide comfort and reassurance.
  • Avoid using antiseptic substances such as hydrogen peroxide or alcohol that can damage wounded tissues.

Conclusion

Your injured pooch has been through a lot already. Be sure to work carefully and gently and reassure your agitated pet when cleaning and treating bite puncture wounds. Follow the advice of a veterinarian and adjust cleaning of the wound depending on whether the wound is left open or sutured, and whether dressings are recommended by your veterinarian. The location, situation, and severity of the puncture wound will dictate how it is treated and cleaned. Use antiseptic cleaning practices and gentle antiseptic cleaning solutions to clean away from the puncture wound and watch carefully for signs of infection that would require further medical intervention.

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